Second only to race, LGBT crimes are the most common category of hate crime in Florida. Sexual orientation-related hate crimes have surpassed religion, putting the LGBT community particularly at risk in Florida.
In response, Floridian laws have increased the penalties for hate crimes towards the LGBT community. Transgenders have been increasingly included in such hate crime laws too, thus getting similar protection to the gay community, along with hate towards certain gender identities.
Other hate crimes included in the statistics are prejudicial crimes towards race, color, ancestry, religion, ethnicity, disability, and age. Florida is suffering from a reporting crisis, however.
Hate crimes aren’t all that common, but it is suspected that many fail to report them to the police. Towards the end of 2019, in the space of a few months, there were two murders and one assault towards transgenders and gender non-conformists. None of these horrific incidents were reported as hate crimes at the time, which caused uproar in the LGBT community.
Of course, this comes with the context that 49 people were massacred at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, by a self-proclaimed jihadist. Such a horrific incident to happen in a gay club may have been more traumatizing than otherwise too, for those that survived, and even those who were not present at the time. This is because gay clubs are viewed as safe spaces in the LGBT community, and this sense of safety was completely taken away from them. Many to this day do not see gay clubs in the same way. It was found in the same study that those with more marginalized sexual identities, such as queer, have more concern regarding safety than those with more mainstream sexual identities, such as gay/lesbian.
Much of the LGBT community feel unsafe in Florida regardless, but the crime statistics fail to appropriately represent why. Whilst reporting is likely improving due to the pressure from the community, there is still an issue of under- and misreporting. Of course, attacks against LGBT failing to be reported as hate crimes makes the issue harder to tackle, as the statistics aren’t helping make the case for the LGBT community.
Helping Cope With The Fear of Hate Crimes
The violence against the LGBT community in both Florida and Nationwide has led to growing mental health issues. The fear around LGBT violence has only worsened existing anxieties but has meant the therapy industry has innovated to help in response. There have been an increasing amount of specialized online services that are seeking to provide psychological help to those feeling vulnerable in the LGBT community.
Of course, online therapy is a growing industry itself, with many people preferring online, anonymous interaction over meeting a therapist in person. It can often be cheaper and more accessible, too.
One example is Pride Counseling (owned by BetterHelp), which specializes in the mental health issues of the LGBT community. Fear of discrimination, hate crimes, family issues, and being judged are some of the many challenges that the LGBT community faces. Though, a large part of this demand has been driven by LGBT crimes in Florida, along with homophobic hate speech.
The appeal of organizations like this is that signing up can be done anonymously. Whilst therapists in person are also reliable in securing your privacy, safety, and anonymity, online interactions feel more secure regarding these concerns. In fact, you can even use a nickname.
Generally, the professional workers can be on stand-by for a conversation, be it over text, video, or phone call. Furthermore, the on-demand, 24/7 aspect has revolutionized the way we seek help, as it can very much be useful in moments of difficult scenarios, and is generally more affordable.
Online therapists aren’t always the full solution to issues. Not only do the clients themselves need to be active in helping themselves over the long-run, but it doesn’t always replace traditional therapy.
What online therapists have been useful for, though, is being a stepping stone towards traditional therapy. Making that leap can be difficult, and it’s something that online counselors can be great at – bridging the gap, listening, and offering professional advice.
Some patients go on to further therapy, some feel perfectly content in sticking with online services. The reality is that more choices have benefited the community tremendously, as it has become easier to find something that works for each individual person.